Image credit: DoNation
From peer-supported fundraising for solar in Africa to channeling energy savings into community donations, there are plenty of ways we can all raise money for a good, green cause. But what if we could use these same tactics to create behavior change too? A new website is encouraging an alternative form of sponsorship, allowing people to accept pledges for action in return for their adventurous feats. The DoNation is the brainchild of Hermione Taylor—a graduate with a Masters in Environmental Technology—who herself cycled from London to Morocco, and received 216 green pledges from friends and family instead of financial sponsorship. Ranging from eating less meat to washing clothes on a cooler setting, these pledges resulted in significant carbon savings and, according to Taylor, three-quarters of her sponsors continued their pledges long after the event was over.
Alice-Azania Jarvis tells the story of how Taylor's bike ride became inspiration for her to found The DoNation as a social enterprise, building on the concept of online donation sites like JustGiving to provide an alternative form of doing good that doesn't require a financial commitment. But how can you be sure that pledges are stuck to?
There is, of course, one potential flaw. Unlike websites where you pledge money, the DoNation can't hold everyone to account. It's perfectly possible - at least in theory - to pledge a bit of good behaviour and then default on it. This is something Taylor has thought long and hard about - and she believes she has a solution: "What we've done, essentially, is use a form of peer pressure. All the pledges are listed in public and, given that it's a friend or acquaintance that you are sponsoring, you're likely to be surrounded by people to police you.
Jarvis provides at least anecdotal proof that the system works, having pledged to only boil the amount of water she needs in the kettle for her cup of tea. And she says she has stuck to it. Of course it is only a small step, but it has resulted in an increased awareness of energy use and the impact it has. It also means that Jarvis is not waiting as long for her tea, and is saving money in the process. And this is where The DoNation probably has the most promise—if sponsors can be inspired to try something they wouldn't have done otherwise, the hope is that they find it easier than they thought, and perhaps even beneficial.
What would you pledge?
More on Green Fundraising and Sponsorship
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